Yes, it’s time for another Top 5 to stir everyone up. What better way than the up-and-down career of Yes. This undoubtedly talented lineup from England has changed numerous times over the years, each with its own style and flair. With a career lasting nearly fifty years, and having released 21 albums over that span, Yes continue to tour in memory of their longtime bassist Chris Squire. Their sound has changed drastically over the years, so ranking them will surely leave some readers scratching their heads. But leave it to Crash And Ride Music to share with you their greatest albums.
So here it is: Crash And Ride Music’s Top 5 Best Yes albums:Read More »
A couple weeks ago, the legendary David Gilmour released his latest album “Rattle That Lock.” You might be wondering why I’m mentioning it now instead of when it was first released. To be honest, I wasn’t overly excited about this release. For being arguably one of the greatest guitarists ever, I have a hard time appreciating much of his solo material. I think of his discography, the only one that I have even played more than a handful of times was “On An Island.” Something about his solo material doesn’t enliven me like his work on Pink Floyd, including his most recent “Rattle That Lock.”Read More »
I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here, but I have a feeling I’ll be coming back from my hiatus shortly. I may not post to the extent I have been in the past, but I’ve been feeling the urge to share some wonderful music lately.
Before I get back into it, I wanted to take a moment to share some sad news I found out recently. After taking a week off from social media, I opened by Facebook to find out that bassist Chris Squire from the famous band Yes had passed away. It struck me hard; I felt devastated since it was the first post on my wall after being away for a week. And to find out that it had happened days ago? That made me feel even worse.
I wanted to share to everyone my love for this man. He was one hell of a bassist. Squire’s bass riffs and solos were some of my favorite sections in Yes’ catalog. “The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)” and “On the Silent Wings of Freedom” are some of my favorite songs they’ve made simply because of Squire’s presence. Being one of the longest standing members of the band, I highly admire and respect Squire. He was a legend, and will always be one of the greatest bass guitar players of his time.
It’s difficult to mention Hackett’s performance on “Wolflight” without bringing attention to his original band Genesis. One of the most famous and successful progressive rock bands, Genesis has an interesting history, mixed with tension, turmoil, change, and division. I could easily suggest for my readers to pick up a copy of one of Genesis’ more popular albums, but that wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. Instead, I’m going to recommend an album that most fans may not be familiar with, an album that occurred after Peter Gabriel’s time as the band’s singer, and an album that took Genesis towards a new direction.
I found this next album when I was in search of some older music to listen to. I wanted to find something that could accompany me while I was working, or while I was even writing for this blog. After scrolling through Progarchives, I came across the band Gentle Giant, a progressive rock band from the 70’s. I had barely remembered the name from prior searches for musical gold, but felt I had to give this band a chance a second time around. I am so glad I did.
Gentle Giant consists of a rotation of multi-instrumentalists, whose primary members were brothers Derek, Ray, and Phil Shulman. Recording 11 albums over 10 years, this band definitely falls into the genre of progressive rock, reminding me of bands like King Crimson and Spock’s Beard. Beyond this genre, each album they’ve released has its own influences, ranging from jazz, to blues, to experimental rock. After hearing their first half of their discography, I fell in love with the album “Acquiring the Taste.”
“Acquiring the Taste” falls under the progressive rock genre, with a unique influence of psychedelic rock and neo-classical rock. The range of instrumentation that defines neo-classical rock is evident throughout the entire album, most notably in the song “The House, The Street, The Room” during the solo towards the middle of the song. With so many band members with knowledge of different instruments, one can hear the range of sound that each member brings. Because each band member plays multiple instruments throughout the album, it is hard to pinpoint when one band member excels above the others. Because of this, I have to review this album solely as a whole, and not as a sum of its parts.
With the range of instruments including guitar, bass guitar, drums, violin, piano, clavichord, cello, mandolin, saxophone, clarinet, and more, each song has its own experimentation. The songs “The House, The Street, The Room” and “Plain Truth” use more string instruments than the other songs, while songs like “Wreck” and “The Moon Is Down” uses more percussion instruments. Accompanying classical instruments are more modern instruments and effects like a Moog synthesizer and guitar effect pedals, best represented in the songs “Pantagruel’s Nativity” and “Black Cat.” The use of all these instruments makes “Acquiring the Taste” one of the most interesting and unique albums in my iTunes library.
At the first time hearing this album, it may be hard to listen and follow because of the incredibly experimental sound. During the recording of this album, the band had issued a declaration towards its listeners, explaining that it was their goal to “expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular.” They went on further to state that it took their collective knowledge to produce such an album that is more substantial and fulfilling, and that the audience should “acquire the taste,” hence the album title. (source)
I recommend this album to those who like progressive rock, experimental rock, jazz, and blues, but especially those who like the band King Crimson. This album definitely takes multiple listens to get used to, so please listen to this album at least twice and “acquire the taste”! I guarantee you that it will be one of the craziest albums you’ll ever listen to. If you are interesting in hearing more from this band but maybe something a little less experimental, I recommend their self titled debut “Gentle Giant,” which ranges from progressive rock to symphonic rock.
Preview and purchase “Acquiring The Taste” by Gentle Giant by clicking the album cover above!
The next band I’d like to review has been in the music industry for almost 50 years, and has just recently released a new album. Containing some of the most renowned members in the classic rock community, the band Yes has made its footprint in history of rock music. With a varying sound throughout their lifetime, Yes has dabbled in the fields of progressive rock, pop rock, and synth rock. Even today, their music is a collaborative influence of everything they have learned from the past. The band Yes is definitely one of my favorite bands, one that has inspired my taste in music.
Though Yes has been through several lineup changes, the most consistent members comprise of guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire. Additional support is given from longtime members Geoff Downes and Alan White on keyboards and drums respectively. The newest addition to the band is Jon Davison, lead singer of the band Glass Hammer, who replaces the talented and iconic Jon Anderson. Only recently has this lineup been created, but has already produced Yes’ newest album “Heaven and Earth.”
Before I begin this review, I have had the chance to read what others have said about this album. I was very disappointed to see mostly negative reviews of this album, criticizing the direction of the band while comparing this lineup and their musical style to Yes of the past. I would like to respond to those critiques that this lineup of Yes simply cannot be likened to Yes of the past. The Yes that has produced fantastic albums like “Fragile” and “Close to the Edge” has passed, even back in the 80’s when that lineup produced the album “90125.” Any argument over musical style is long overdue, because decades have passed since their dramatic shift in genre. With over forty years gone by since their inception, creating some great memories from Yes’ prior work, it is unfair to make a comparison between who they are now to who they aren’t. Comparing “Heaven and Earth” with albums like “Fragile” is like comparing apples with oranges; it simply doesn’t make sense to do so.
With that said, I first listened to “Heaven and Earth” without bias, as if this were the first album released by a new band. In doing so, I have thoroughly enjoyed this album. Considering this album to be a poppier version of progressive rock, the rhythm and beat is very catchy and gets stuck in my head very easily. The songs may be less complex than Yes’ prior work, but is easier to listen to, and can be more appealing to a wider audience. Remember, even Yes’ prior work contains songs that are less complex than others (ex. “Onward” and “Sweetness”) Using a groovy drum rhythm, White helps lay the groundwork throughout the album for each member of the band. He is best featured in “In A World Of Our Own” and “Light of the Ages,” with precise hits and harmony. The bass guitar, provided by Chris Squire, also complements the drum work and guitars, employing bass lines that act as a signature over the entire album. Although less complex as albums in the past, I feel the bass help set the stage for his band mates.
The legendary Steve Howe does it again, doing a tremendous job throughout “Heaven and Earth.” His presence is felt in the songs “Light of the Ages” and “Subway Walls,” using classic techniques that were present since the early Yes years. His sound and scales are so unique that I can determine he is playing just by listening to him. Lighter songs like “It Was All We Knew” and “To Ascend” bring the softer side of Yes, reminiscent of songs like “Turn of the Century.” Being one of my favorite guitarists, Howe fails to disappoint me as he shows his versatility throughout the album.
One thing I was surprised about in this album compared to past albums is the keyboard-dominated sound of Downes. This sound is established early in the songs “Believe Again” and “Step Beyond,” which uses an expansive selection of effects. The use of keys in this album is a nod to their prior work in the 80’s and 90’s, yet innovative enough to expand the sound towards a new direction. The song “Subway Walls” is an example of Downes’ ability, as the beginning of the song uses a symphonic sound to introduce their longest track. The song then shifts into a perfect amalgamation of old and new, of pop and progressive rock, and portrays Downes at his finest, especially during his solo halfway through the song. By far my favorite track on this album, “Subway Walls” shows each member at their finest.
The one member of the band that I was the most interested, yet most concerned with coming into this album was their new singer Jon Davison. Having replaced their previous singer whose tenure only spanned one album, I wondered how this would affect the band and the album. Even more, I wondered if Davison would even come close to the legendary Anderson in vocal and lyrical talent. After listening to this album, I believe strongly that if Anderson had to be replaced, Davison was a great choice to do so. His high falsetto voice is comparable to Anderson in his youth, but doesn’t necessarily mimic him. Davison’s writing style is unique, and even surpasses their previous singer Benoit David in ability. I enjoy listening to Davison’s vocals, especially in the songs in the ballad “To Ascend” and another one of my personal favorites “The Game.” I cannot help singing to “The Game” because of the catchy lyrics and range of vocals.
Despite much criticism, I am proud to stand against the crowd and state that “Heaven and Earth” is a successful album to me. Each member of the band shines in separate songs, only to show their brilliance in unison towards the end of the album. I highly recommend this album not only because of the recognition towards such an amazing and timeless band, but because this album truly is a unique and surprising listening experience. For lovers of Yes, along with fans of classic rock, progressive rock, and pop rock, please give this album a chance and support “Heaven and Earth.” In addition to buying this album, Yes is currently touring across the United States, and rumored to be playing their classics alongside their newest album. Please take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Check out this Youtube video featuring their song “In A World Of Our Own”: